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Back-to-School Blessings: For All of Us
Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Man”
for August 30 to September 5, 2021

by Christie C. Hanzlik, C.S. in Boulder, CO
ccern@mac.com • 720-331-9356 • christiecs.com

To me, this Bible Lesson on “Man” is a reminder that whether or not you and I are literally heading back to school this week, we can all use this time of year to renew our childlike receptivity, purity, and meekness.  We can metaphorically experience a back-to-school week as we focus on our innate childlikeness.  The Golden Text (GT) of this week’s Bible Lesson reminds us, “…all of you are children of the most High.” (GT, Psalm 82:6)

Since this “Met” is about going back to school, I thought I might suggest some possible “homework” assignments for us students.  There are six assignments (plus a bonus assignment) that you can find within this Met.  First, I propose that this week we each strive to affirm—even before we get out of bed—that we are all children.  Perhaps you could put a sticky note by your bedside that says something like, “You are a child of the living God.”  Indeed, we are all the children of God, not the adults of God…each of us possess the qualities of childlike receptivity, freshness, joy, humor, and the expectation of good.  And, to the degree that we acknowledge this constant and renewing gift of eternal childhood, we experience it daily.

As I read through this week’s Lesson, I noticed that the qualities of youth emphasized in each section apply well to individuals and they also apply well to institutions.  As a second assignment, consider relating the qualities of youth emphasized in this week’s lesson to each aspect of church activity.  We could ask ourselves, “What happens to our concept of church when we apply to it the qualities of youth?”   As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “While age is halting between two opinions or battling with false beliefs, youth makes easy and rapid strides towards Truth.” (citation S22, 236:28-10) When we apply this sentence to church, it could read. “While [an age-d church] is halting between two opinions or battling with false beliefs, [a youthful and vibrant church] makes easy and rapid strides towards Truth.”

The Responsive Reading (RR) recounts the story from Matthew in which Christ Jesus’ disciples were asking him which one of them was the greatest.  Their question was an “aging question” in that it was outlining a future and based in a traditionalism of hierarchy, full of ego and self-centeredness and so forth.  This type of thinking is age-d because it does not allow for freshness and renewal.  Christ Jesus didn’t answer their question by singling out one of the disciples as better than the others, nor did he say, “none of you.”  Instead, he asked a child to join their group, and instructed the disciples to “become as little children.”  Christ Jesus further illustrates this point about childlike humility by reminding the disciples that they are the sheep and not the Shepherd, and that the divine Shepherd doesn’t prize one sheep over another, but rather rejoices over every single sheep, including those who need the most help.  (RR, Matthew 18:1-5, 10-14)

This week’s Lesson is also an effective treatment against worrying about schoolchildren starting their schoolyear.  For a third assignment, pray for schoolchildren around the globe.  Whenever we may be tempted to worry about schoolchildren starting school during what appears to be a medical crisis and a climate in which school shootings are common enough that kids must participate in “shooter drills” in addition to “fire drills,” we can let our temptation to worry be our reminder to affirm that the Comforter (the action of the Shepherd) is right now speaking to and comforting every child.  We pray until we are no longer worried because worry is a form of malpractice.  In educational policy, we often hear the phrase “no child left behind.”  Well, applying this week’s Responsive Reading as a prayer for all children around the world, we can affirm that in our Shepherd’s kingdom there is “no sheep left behind.” Every sheep is “cared for, watched over, loved and protected.” (Hymn 278)

In addition to the ideas on childlikeness, this lesson is constructed around the Beatitudes, which are a beautiful set of ideas given to us by the Master-Teacher, Christ Jesus.   As a fourth assignment, consider listening to the 9-part audio podcast on the Beatitudes with (then) Bible scholar (now Principia College Biblical Studies professor, Dr.) Barry Huff.  The address of this link on the official christianscience.com website is https://www.christianscience.com/youth/sunday-school-teachers/the-beatitudes/the-beatitudes-podcast. [It appears, along with many more resources, at the bottom of this webpage: https://www.christianscience.com/youth/young-adult ]

I’m also curious why the Beatitudes occur out of order in the Lesson—the sixth one comes first in the Lesson, for example.  Plus, two of them are left out.  I suppose a bonus assignment could be to figure this out.  And the good news about our going back to school…we’re already perfect students, with a perfect connection to the perfect divine Mind!

 

SECTION 1: The Fatherhood and motherhood of God
The first section of the Lesson reminds us that God is the “Father” and also the “Mother” to each of us.  (citations B1 and B2, Isaiah 63:16, Isaiah 66:13)

We have each experienced different human examples of fathers and mothers, and we may have positive or negative, happy or troubled, or just mixed ideas of the relationship we have with human fathers and mothers.  But the Motherhood and Fatherhood of God is perfect, meaning that it is the principled and loving ideal of support, acceptance, and belonging that come from our divine parentage.

Accepting our divine parentage wholeheartedly is a simple and powerful prayer.  God already chose us as children.  And we can accept Love’s parentage with the simple prayer: “We are thine.”  (cit. B1, Isaiah 66) What a simple three-word prayer!  And as Love/Truth/Life/Mind’s children, we are Love/Truth/Life/Mind’s heirs, meaning that we inherit freely the goodness, strength and power of Love/Truth/Life/Mind.  (cit. B4, Romans 8:16, 17)

Throughout her writings, Mary Baker Eddy uses the term “man” to mean all of us regardless of gender (kind or sort), and says that “Man is the family name for all ideas, —the sons and daughters of God.” (cit. S1, 515:21) Over the years, I’ve tried to think of another word for “man” that is all-encompassing without sounding gendered.  This week’s lesson has made me think that the word “children” or “offspring” works in most instances, especially as we are affirming that we are all children.  For example, consider substituting the word “children” for “man” in these statements….  “In divine Science, [children are] the true image of God.   The Christlike understanding of scientific being and divine healing includes a perfect Principle and idea, — perfect [Parent] and perfect [children], — as the basis of thought and demonstration. (cit. S6, p259:6, 11)

SECTION 2: Blessed are the pure
The second section highlights childlike purity and includes the beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”  (cit. B6, Matthew 5:8) In other words, blessed are those who have a true understanding of purity, for they shall understand God.

Innocence and purity are not qualities that start out in a fixed quantity that is then diminished as we do things wrong.  No.  That would be a limited (or material) view of innocence and purity.  Instead, our innocence and purity grow and unfold the more that we understand them.  A newborn baby’s innocence and purity are precious, of course.  But as we face challenges and learn to defend and truly understand our innate innocence and purity, those qualities are strengthened and enriched and their potency expands.  Our innocence and purity grow as we understand them more and more.

Many people falsely believe that our innocence and purity can be lost.  Innocence and purity cannot be lost.  We may seem to forget them, or they may seem to be clouded, but these qualities are never lost.  Our divine Parent gave them to us, and they cannot be taken away.  These qualities can only be uncovered and unfolded as we understand them more and more.  We can feel more and more pure, and more and more innocent each day.  I have found that I am more aware of my innate innocence and purity now than I was twenty years ago.  While I now know that my innocence and purity were always with me, they were fuzzier concepts to me twenty years ago.  Now they are clearer.  And I expect that they will continue to become clearer and clearer, and thus will become more and more potent.  The spiritual power of our innocence and purity is true for all of us.

Some people seem to look down upon youth and younger people for seeming inexperienced, ignorant, or irresponsible.  “Adults” sometimes seem to adopt an attitude about youth that sounds something like, “Well, they don’t get it now, but someday they’ll see…”  I cannot imagine a more stifling way to approach youth and youthful thinkers.  This approach is a subtle form of malpractice against the qualities of youth that should be treasured and esteemed in all of us.  We are all the children of divine Mind, and this is our only source of wisdom and purity.  We can all claim youth for ourselves, and not look down on others who are youthful, and not allow others to look down on us for our youthfulness.  As Timothy tells us, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young.  Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (cit. B7, I Timothy 4:12, NLT)

The second section illustrates the protective power of purity with the story of Joseph.  Joseph’s purity protected him from the false accusations by Potiphar’s wife.  (cit. B9, Genesis 39:1, 2, 6–10)

Mary Baker Eddy makes strong statements about the protective power of purity, which is an innate quality of youth.  She writes, “In Science [we are] the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute [our] ancestry. [Our] origin is not, like that of [limited cells governed by brains and hormones], in brute instinct, nor [do we] pass through material conditions prior to reaching intelligence. Spirit is [our] primitive and ultimate source of being; God is [our] Father, and Life is the law of [our] being.”  (cit. S9, 64:5, —with [bracketed italics] as gender-neutral substitutions for “Man is/his/He is”)

SECTION 3: Blessed are the Meek
The second section focused on purity as a childlike quality, and section three focuses on meekness.  Section 3 opens with Christ Jesus’ beatitude, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (cit. 10, Matthew 5:5) To me, this beatitude emphasizes that meekness is strength.  Meekness is a calm and clear willingness to do what is right and good.

For a quick dive into the meaning of meekness, consider a fifth assignment….read George Moffett’s article “Meekness is power, not weakness,” from the November 2018 issue of The Christian Science Journal (https://journal.christianscience.com/issues/2018/11/136-11/meekness-is-power-not-weakness)

The third section offers the example of the child Samuel hearing God’s voice and asking his mentor, Eli, three times if Eli was calling for him.  Samuel’s childlike meekness enables him to hear the voice of the Lord.  And, Eli’s childlike meekness enables him to know that Samuel is hearing God’s voice.  Eli’s meekness is especially notable since Eli was the high priest at this temple at Shiloh.  If Eli had an age-d thought, perhaps he would have thought that there was no way that God would speak to an inexperienced child such as Samuel.  But Eli did not have an age-d thought.  Eli was able to see what was going on (despite being physically blind he arguably had more sight than others!)  This story is just as much about Eli’s childlikeness as it is about Samuel’s receptivity.  Some adults may not have been as open-minded as Eli, and may have dismissed Samuel.  But Eli’s meekness enabled him to know what was happening.  (cit. B12, I Samuel 3: 1-6, 8-10, 19, 20) Ultimately, of course, Samuel’s meek listening led to him becoming a respected prophet, priest and the last judge in Israel…an extremely rare accomplishment.

As Mary Baker Eddy states, “Let us rid ourselves of the belief that [children are] separated from God, and obey only the divine Principle, Life and Love. Here is the great point of departure for all true spiritual growth.” (cit. S17, 91:5)

 

SECTION 4: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
Section 4 is framed around the beatitude, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (cit. B13, Matthew 5:6)   As I understand it, this beatitude is about developing what Mary Baker Eddy calls “the cravings of immortal man.” (SH 60-61) These cravings, which begin with a desire for goodness and ways to let our light shine, lead to true satisfaction and fulfillment.  We are never satisfied when we crave ephemeral things because ephemeral things, by definition, go away.  But, for example, as we crave the ability to love more and love more purely, we find lasting satisfaction.  As a sixth assignment, consider diving into this concept of immortal cravings by reading: “The Youth-and-Morality Article,” by Channing Walker (February 1996, The Christian Science Journal, https://journal.christianscience.com/issues/1996/2/114-2/the-youth-and-morality-article)

Section 4 refers to education that guides us along “right paths” to wisdom. (cit. B15, Proverbs 4:11) As we read in Isaiah, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (cit. B14, Isaiah 54: 13)   It is comforting to know that the Lord is our Teacher.  We can strive to be willing and eager students.

This section’s correlating citations in Science and Health are helpful for seeing a whole-souled model for education…beyond brick-and-mortar buildings.  As I read these citations, I realized that the best model for a teacher is Christ Jesus, the Way-shower.  Christ Jesus is the best-ever expression of the divine Teacher.  This realization led me to re-read these citations with Christ Jesus in mind as a role-model teacher.  For example, consider Mary Baker Eddy’s statement, “The pure and uplifting thoughts of the teacher [who has Christ Jesus as a role model], constantly imparted to pupils, will reach higher than the heavens of astronomy….” (cit. S20, 195:15-16 with [bracketed italics] added.)

SECTION 5: Blessed are the Poor in Spirit
The fifth section is framed around the beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  (cit. B17, Matthew 5:3) The phrase “poor in spirit” can be confusing because it sounds negative.  As I understand it, being poor in spirit means being humble and free of ego.   Instead of seeking personal gain, a person who is poor in spirit is humble, not self-interested, and is naturally willing to bless others.

To illustrate the meaning of being “poor in spirit,” the fifth section uses the example of Christ Jesus healing little children.  When the children approached Christ Jesus, the disciples tried to turn them away, perhaps because the disciples didn’t think that children were worthy of the Master’s attention.   But Christ Jesus saw their value, their humble and childlike receptivity and their natural willingness to bless others.  (cit. B18, Matthew 19:1, 2, 13-15) In other words, Christ Jesus could see that the children were “poor in spirit”—they were free of ego and utterly receptive to Spirit.  They were pure of ego-based spirit and thus most receptive to divine Spirit.

As Mary baker Eddy explains, “Jesus loved little children because of their freedom from wrong and their receptiveness of right. While age is halting between two opinions or battling with false beliefs, youth makes easy and rapid strides towards Truth.”

She continues, “A little girl, who had occasionally listened to my explanations, badly wounded her finger. She seemed not to notice it. On being questioned about it she answered ingenuously, ‘There is no sensation in matter.” Bounding off with laughing eyes, she presently added, ‘Mamma, my finger is not a bit sore.’

“It might have been months or years before her parents would have laid aside their drugs, or reached the mental height their little daughter so naturally attained.” (cit. S22, 236:28-10)

The description of youth as making “easy and rapid strides towards Truth” has nothing to do with how many times we’ve traveled around the sun.  It is a mindset of being “poor in spirit” and receptive to the renewal and refreshment of divine Spirit.

The youthful idea of “bounding off with laughing eyes” was a favorite phrase of CedarS Camps founder, Ruth Huff, who wrote a series of stories about inspiring interactions with her three grandchildren (all of whom have now earned PhDs) and titled the collection, “Laughing Eyes.”  (The book can be purchased in the office at CedarS during the summer.)

One time when my older son was four, his finger got shut in the car door.  We had been having such a harmonious day, and I was immediately clear that Love’s goodness filled all space and there couldn’t be anything squashed in Love’s kingdom.  I was able to open the door to release his finger, and then held my son briefly before he “bounded off with laughing eyes.”  It felt like an important moment to me, and so I tried in a serious way to get my son to sit down and listen to me explain about the girl in Science and Health who hurt her finger and quickly knew there was “no sensation in matter” and then her finger was “not a bit sore.”

My son had moved on so quickly from the finger-in-the-car-door incident that the story must have seemed irrelevant to him, and he asked, “what’s a fingersaurus?”  (We had been studying dinosaurs all that week.)  I laughed out loud and the humor of me making the situation over-serious taught me to accept more readily the childlike receptivity of “bounding off with laughing eyes.”  I learned once again that not everything needs to be analyzed with seriousness.  Healers should laugh often with youthful expectancy.  Thank goodness for my son’s childlike receptivity to help me reach the joyous “mental heights” he so “naturally attained.”  (cit. S22, 236:28-10, the last sentence)

SECTION 6: Blessed are they that mourn
The sixth section opens with the beatitude, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (cit. 19, Matthew 5:4) To me, this idea behind “blessed are they that mourn” is similar to Mary Baker Eddy’s poem and hymn, “Mother’s Evening Prayer,” which reads:

“O make me glad for every scalding tear,
For hope deferred, ingratitude, disdain!
Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear
No ill, — since God is good, and loss is gain.”
(CS Hymnal 208)

The idea that “loss is gain,” can seem hard to understand.  But, basically, as we lose a limited view of something or someone, we gain an expanded and widened view.  And it sometimes seems like it takes a loss to force us to accept an expanded understanding.  Likewise, we are blessed when we mourn because we find the comfort of Christ and our loss is gain as we discover a higher and more satisfying sense of eternal joy.

This beatitude is illustrated with the story of the Gentile woman begging for help because her daughter was “grievously vexed with a devil.”  At first, Christ Jesus said he wouldn’t help her because he said that he was sent to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and perhaps he said this because he was testing her receptivity and faith.  But the mother pleaded with him and said that she, like a dog, would be willing to accept any crumbs of comfort “which fall from their masters’ table” and whatever he could offer her in her moment of needful mourning.  Christ Jesus heard her humble willingness to accept healing, and to gain by her faith a wider and more expanded understanding.  And of course, the daughter was healed at that very moment. (cit. B21, Matthew 15:21-28)

Her loss of human will that she gained during mourning and her willingness to receive the Comforter, blessed her for all times.  Christ Jesus heard her willingness to accept healing, and gain a wider and more expanded understanding.

Mary Baker Eddy’s words help explain how this woman’s willingness to receive even crumbs of comfort transformed her loss turned into gain.  She writes, “Whatever inspires with wisdom, Truth, or Love — be it song, sermon, or Science — blesses the human family with crumbs of comfort from Christ’s table, feeding the hungry and giving living waters to the thirsty.” (cit. S24, 234:4)

You can find the illustration above with insights on Jesus’ testing, and seemingly rude, words about it not being right “to take the children’s bread, and cast it to the dogs” (non-Jews) at https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zkrf8xs/revision/9

Note that in this account of healing, Christ Jesus does not interact with the woman’s daughter.  The woman’s humility and willingness to accept healing resulted in the daughter’s being healed.  Mary Baker Eddy explains about healing children that, “If the case is that of a young child or an infant, it needs to be met mainly through the parent’s thought, silently or audibly on the aforesaid basis of Christian Science.” (cit. S25, 412:13-31)

To me, it has been crucial to remember not to mix-up this sentence and reverse its meaning.  A parent’s calm and Christlike thought is receptive to healing.  Yes.  But this does not mean that the parents are to blame when a child is unwell.  If a parent is feeling guilty or a stirred-up sense of false responsibility because a child is unwell, then this is what needs to be healed…the guilt.  Heal the false feeling of guilt and anxiety. The child is innocent.  Parents could feel like they are stepping onto a never-ending merry-go-round of self-blame if they accepted that every challenge a child faced was their fault.  To break free from this cycle of guilt, the simplest prayer is to turn the child over to the divine Parent, with humility and meekness.  The child is God’s child.  And, the parent is also God’s child.  I’ve witnessed many healings with my children as I realized that I was not the parent in charge…God is the Parent of my children and me and everyone.

In the story of Christ Jesus and the woman, it was the Christ that healed.  Like the mother in this story, all parents can turn their children over to Christ, the Comforter, and experience healing.  And we know that, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

SECTION 7: Blessed are the Peacemakers
The final section opens with the beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”  (cit. B22, Matthew 5:9)  This section emphasizes children gathered together joyously and harmoniously, governed by God.  It includes a message from the prophet Zechariah who describes a vision of the “city of truth” where the streets of the city are filled with boys and girls at play. (cit. B23, Zechariah 8: 3-8)

This connects to the peaceful promise Isaiah gives us: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” (cit. B25, Isaiah 11:6; cit. S29, 514:19-30)

Isaiah’s vision provides a wonderful prayer that can inspire our understanding of schools and schoolchildren around the globe.  And this prophetic vision helped Mary Baker Eddy to see that “All of God’s creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible.”  (cit. S29, 514:19-30)

Throughout her life, Mary Baker Eddy held a deep love for children and childlike receptivity of the “ultimate harmony.”  She states, “Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, — this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony.” (cits. S22, 236:28; S28, 323:32-4)

That this Bible Lesson on Man focuses so much on children can help each of us wake up to the fact that we are all the children of God, not the adults of God.  We are all cared for tenderly by the divine Parent.  It can be tempting to feel like we are over-loaded with adult responsibilities when we have to buy our own toilet paper and shop around for the best insurance rates. These mundane things seem to mesmerize us into thinking of ourselves as adults.  But all of these so-called responsibilities can be done with childlike joy and effortless progress.  We are children.  Our divine Parent is guiding and guarding us each step of the way, providing a perfect atmosphere of joy and play.  We can let our age-d sense of burden go.  We can let go of human opinions like self-importance, traditionalism, and excuses.  And we can “make easy and rapid strides” toward the unfoldment of the ultimate harmony.  And, remember, “…all of you are children of the most High.” (GT, Psalms 82:6)


CLICK BELOW FOR  INSPIRING INSIGHTS …
a Met Prelude of poetry by Ken Cooper, UK

and an in-works postlude of inspiring GEMs by COBBEY CRISLER and others


CedarS is humbly grateful to God that we completed 12 wonderful weeks of hosting summer campers and staff! You can enjoy daily spiritual sense insights by scrolling down our Inspiration webpage for “Prac Talks” to nearly start every day (& activity) with a  God-centered focus.  The last Prac Talk by David Price, CS, invited everyone to take home the best version of themselves that had been nurtured at CedarS and to expunge as never true fables any lesser history. Abundant fruitage will be shared soon!!

Heartfelt thanks to all you, greatly needed and precious supporters who continue to help CedarS give LIFELONG, DIFFERENCE-MAKING BLESSINGS to hundreds of families and thousands of individuals all across the U.S. and the world. To discuss how to play a vital, ongoing role in our work, feel free to call or text me (Warren Huff) at 314-378-2574 with your pledge or intent to give a planned gift or an endowment gift (that will be MATCHED!) to help us “love into view” continued, lasting blessings and legacies each year.

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